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OWCC Foundation Donors Enable Students to Become "Dream Catchers"


Honoring its contributors for allowing students to become "dream catchers" and for helping the college to be "transforming and resilient" in its mission; the Okaloosa-Walton Community College Foundation celebrated its 16th annual meeting Friday night with a crowd of nearly 300 people on the college's Arts Center stage.

"If you really want to witness transformation, just see the impact OWCC's nursing programs have had in meeting our area's nursing shortage," said OWCC Foundation President Bobbi Pennington. "If you want to see resilient and transforming together, just think the about the single mother who received a foundation scholarship and is now working as a registered nurse in a local hospital."

Noting that community colleges have been described as "dream catchers," Pennington added, "No place more readily demonstrates this description than OWCC. It is because of everyone here tonight and hundreds of others that the 'dream catchers' will continue to flourish."

Pennington said the OWCC Foundation assets grew in 2003 to $19.1 million on revenues of $1.8 million in gifts and donations. The growth of the endowment and other contributions enabled the foundation to allocate more than $1.3 million directly to OWCC for everything from scholarships to instructional program support.

In addition to the nursing program, Pennington noted the foundation and college efforts also included the funding for the new dental assisting program and for a surgical technology program that begins in August 2004. She lauded the efforts of those who contributed to complete funding for the new Visual Arts Building.

Dr. James R. Richburg, president of OWCC, observed that along with corporate funding to support the college's new bachelor programs, the foundation continues provided more than 250 scholarships annually through individual scholarship endowments. He also noted the new horizons ahead as OWCC becomes a four-year bachelor's degree institution and thanked donors for their support to underwrite the new bachelors programs that begin Fall 2004.

Richburg also used the occasion to talk to donors about the late Mattie Kelly. "Mrs. Kelly loved this college, she took nearly every class we offered in art and music . . . and was as committed to the fine and performing arts as any lay person I have ever known," said Richburg. "In 1991, I personally negotiated the gift of Mattie's Estate with Mrs. Kelly. I introduced the ideas of environmental studies and the restoration of the bay into her consideration of a gift to the college."

Richburg noted that when the college foundation accepts a gift, "it knows the terms and restrictions of the gift. If the terms are such that the college cannot meet the gift requirements, the gift is not accepted."

Also at the dinner, Wayne Campbell, CEO of Fort Walton Beach Medical Center and a graduate of OWJC, Class of 1976, was recognized for earning state-wide accolades as one of five Distinguished Community College Alumni for 2003 for his role in developing the OWCC nursing program and for the medical center's financial support of more than $1 million in contributions of equipment, personnel and funds.

Richburg also took the opportunity to recognize TYBRIN Corporation which received the 2003 the Corporate Philanthropy Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Northwest Florida. He recognized the James E. Ready Trust for the 2003 AFP Legacy Award for the late Fort Walton Beach businessman whose trust gift helped fund the colleges nursing initiative.

Dotty Blacker of Valparaiso was honored for receiving the 2003 Florida Benefactor Award by the Council for Resource Development for her contributions and work on funding for the Visual Arts Building.

Sandy Sims, of Gulf Power Company and chair of the 2004 OWCC Annual Fund Campaign, said that the $1.4 million campaign is a "celebration for what has taken place at OWCC for the past 40 years and a celebration of the vision for what the college can become for future students." Sims said the campaign amount includes funding for 10 new endowed teaching chairs at $50,000 each, $600,000 for enhanced instruction through equipment purchases, 10 new endowed scholarships at $20,000 each, and $100,000 for restricted scholarship.

The OWCC Show Choir rounded out the annual meeting with a rousing show of 1960's and 70's tunes.

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